Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Questions (125, 126, 127)

Niall Collins

Question:

125. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps being taken at EU and international level to address human rights concerns in Bahrain; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6406/19]

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Niall Collins

Question:

126. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if the EU or international community has formally investigated reports of torture in prisons in Bahrain; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6407/19]

View answer

Niall Collins

Question:

127. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the action taken or that will be taken regarding the detention of human rights activists in Bahrain; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6408/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 125 to 127, inclusive, together.

The human rights situation in Bahrain is deteriorating, and is a matter of growing concerns. Despite the Bahraini Government stating its commitment to improving its human rights record, citizens in Bahrain are living in an increasingly restrictive society. In recent years there has been further erosion of fundamental freedoms, including freedom of opinion and expression.

Respect for human rights is an integral part of Ireland’s foreign policy. We continually advocate for the right of civil society actors and human rights defenders to operate in a safe environment, without fear of reprisal for speaking out. Ireland, as a small country, amplifies its voice on human rights issues through multilateral engagement and through measured recommendations offered as part of constructive dialogue. Ireland has repeatedly raised Bahraini issues at the UN Human Rights Council.

For example, we have repeatedly highlighted concerns about the human rights situation in Bahrain as part of our Item 4 Statements ("human rights situations that require the Council’s attention") over the last few years. Ireland has expressed concern about the treatment of human rights defenders and the shrinking of civil society space in Bahrain. At the last HRC Universal Periodic Review of Bahrain's human rights record in 2017, Ireland urged Bahrain to accept an open offer by the OHCHR to visit Bahrain.

Ireland urges all states to safeguard the human rights of prisoners and detainees and is committed to the prevention and eradication of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Our voice has been prominent in highlighting this thematic issue. HRC Resolution 36/16, which Ireland co-sponsored, calls upon states to ‘investigate promptly, effectively and impartially all alleged human rights violations and abuses suffered by persons deprived of their liberty, in particular cases involving death, torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, to provide effective remedies to the victims, and to ensure that detention administrations cooperate fully with the investigating authority and preserve all evidence’. Ireland has also co-sponsored thematic Resolutions in the Human Rights Council concerning human rights in the administration of justice; and concerning torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

My Department will continue to monitor developments in Bahrain, and to call on the Bahraini Government to deliver on its stated commitment to make progress in relation to human rights. While Ireland has positive bilateral relations with Bahrain, this does not prevent us from raising our concerns through the appropriate channels. My Department has consistently raised issues of human rights in Bahrain directly with Bahraini officials, as well as at EU and international level, and we will continue to do so whenever opportunities arise.